Plastic Causing Problems in the Kitchen, Again?

Cancer in the kitchen again?  Nicholas D. Kristof in his New York Times column of December 5, 2009, reminds women to be wary of plastics in the kitchen as hot plastics may be causing breast cancer.  Of course, no absolute direct link is known, however, this simply begs common sense.

Imagine all that the human body consumes – many known and unknown ingredients.  The human body processes each element keeping the nutrients which are needed and then eliminating what is not needed.  Unlike a car, the human body is an amazing sophisticated machine, which runs on almost anything.

However, knowing that a heated plastic coated pan emits toxic fumes and kills pet birds – it is good basic common sense that plastic containers HEATED in any way may breakdown and leach into food. For instance – anything warmer than cold may be a hazard – think cooking in plastic in the microwave; washing plastic in the dishwasher; or, even storing warm or hot leftovers into a plastic container. The human body can only do so much to get rid of toxins.

Kristoff asks a good question to the doctors at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He asked them what did they do at home to “avoid the riskes”.  The answers Kristoff noted are good to remember:  do not microwave food in plastic, do not put plastics in the dishwasher and avoid plastics marked with recycling numbers 3, 6 and 7.

Often reading the words “dishwasher safe” and “microwave safe” the warning suggestion is actually for the safety and integrity of the food container. Perhaps a new way of way of thinking is – what is the health impact of the person eating from this container after heated.  Instead of creating environmental and health hazards for you and your family (and your pets) – find alternatives to plastics in your home.  Use small amounts of butter or olive oil instead of any non-stick or Teflon coated pan. Use glassware for saving left overs or using in the microwave.

The culmination of toxins from everyday items are probably causing more harm that we realize. Be on the safe side and make modifications where you can and use common sense.

By Keri Douglas, writer/photographer, Washington, D.C.


The National Resource Defense Council has a special section on plastic.


10 thoughts on “Plastic Causing Problems in the Kitchen, Again?

  1. This was eye-opening.

    While I knew, already, that it was ill-advised to microwave in a plastic container (and even shared this fact with my husband last night), I hadn’t realized that there could be danger of toxic emissions by even placing them in the dishwasher or placing hot food inside them.

  2. …,me lembrou da “dioxina de carbono”, esta no ar e respiramos todos os dias em qualquer lugar,na cidade no campo nos ambientes fechados…fáz parte do dia a dia em nem tomamos conta, é introduzido chumbo pelas vias aéreas que vão direto ao cerebro nos intoxicando lentamente.:] “Plastic causando problemas na cozinha, outra vez?” é exelente a matéria e o grau de concientização da toxidade do material plástico.):

  3. Great article. I think glass is the way to go in the kitchen. There are certainly good uses for plastics, but why risk your health or others for that matter when you can use glass!

  4. There was a fairly large outcry years ago from ‘scientific reports’ which suggested that the new product, Pyrex, may be leaching toxins into the food it holds.

    My point? The key words “no absolute direct link is known” means that this is all conjecture. Nothing has been proven, and a lot of this media-fueled scaremongering is made possible by causation declared by correlation. Sure, plastic may be causing breast cancer – so might microwaves and so might Heinz ketchup and so might high fructose corn syrup and so might a thousand things in kitchens.

    I cook primarily in stainless steel and glass but this is because they are the elements used in high-end cookware, not out of an irrational and unproven fear. Shoddy products with cheap materials and low durability – now THAT is a reason not to use plastic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s